A jacket is an outerwear garment that is lighter in weight than a coat. Jackets are typically hip-length or shorter, and coats may reach to the mid-thigh or longer. Although many jackets are unisex in construction, a few have features in their design that can make them seem more masculine or feminine.
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Traditionally, men's garments button left-over-right, while women's garments button right-over-left. According to the University of Kentucky, this tradition dates back to the middle ages. The design feature allowed a gentleman to open his outer garment with the left hand and then draw a sword with the right hand over the left hip.
Women's clothing from the end of the 19th century onward has changed to emphasise a woman's figure or to exaggerate parts of her anatomy. Because women have narrower shoulders and broader hips than men do, a woman's jacket is often cut so that the shoulders are narrower and the hemline is broader. Some women's jackets have darts in them along the waist so that the jacket narrows to emphasise a woman's waist and then flairs out over the hips. A man's jacket is cut to fit a man's triangular shape with broad shoulders and a narrower hem.
According to the National Textile Center, traditional attitudes toward fashion have been largely shaped by women, who either make or influence the majority of men's wear purchases in the United States. Women's jackets may be lighter in weight and colour or have fancy embellishments such as trim, beading, prints or patterns. Men's jackets may be more practical in nature. The materials may include wool and leather. The colours are typically more subdued. Decorations and embellishments on men's jackets seem more practical in nature, such as zippers, buttons or buckles.
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